sustainable, heritage, dry stone walling, art, health and well being



London – Mudchute park and Farm


The teaching was very relaxed and clear. I felt confident right from the start and felt that I could easily ask questions. The venue was excellent with plenty of space to move around even with a large group. I can now go on to repair and rebuild my wall with skill and confidence. Thank you John.Highly recommended.  Peter


5 Starr rating - Great news (drumroll please)!!! You just received a 5 Star review from Z and G for their experience "Dry Stone Walling Workshop - London":"John is a great treasure, good teacher and patient. It was a great day to understand this craft, have a go at it and meet people. Highly recommended.".

Had a very good day. Learnt I can’t keep a straight course, with thin pieces of stone. Got better with the hammer chipping bits off to reshape. Leant some terms, batter the angle of the wall, jumper - evening up a course.Would take on doing a wall at home.  TW

Very interesting course amazing what you can learn in just one day  NM

The day with John was a great experience! There were 7 'students' (all excellent company by the way) having a go at what, on the face of it, seems a straightforward process. I soon learnt how straightforward John made it seem!!John spent time patiently explaining the process, showing details of the wall already built and pointing out the features of a dry stone wall. He dealt with the wall from foundation up and we soon learnt some of the terminology (2 on 1, 1 on 2, jumpers, cheek ends, batter etc.) and were able to (try and) apply the principles taught. I don't consider myself a good DIYer although I give things a go and this is the attitude that John wants. For me, it was not easy, and you should see it as a hands-on taster/introduction to the subject. In that regard, it was very good.   PW 

John's dry stone walling course is an active participation in learning the basic skills of wall construction. I thoroughly enjoyed the course but more importantly took away the necessary skills and appreciation for the wonderful works of stone that most of us just walk past. John is a fountain of knowledge on all matters of stone and patiently answered all my questions. I am looking forward to another course taught by him.   PG 

I attended John’s course which was held at Mudchute City Farm in London. It was my very first introduction to dry stone walling (although I had always been curious about it!) and I found it to be a great way to learn about this ancient and very practical craft.John truly took the time and care to share with us his knowledge and experience in the art and technique of dry stone walling. The small group I was with worked to build a 2m x 1m wall and we were all very proud of completing our wall satisfactorily by the end of the workshop! A day well spent.  M

Great hands on course.John was knowledgeable and a wonderful inspiring teacher. Thanks for a brilliant memorable day ! And will look at stone walls in a different way .. R

Really interesting course. Very well presented and demonstrated. John was extremely engaging and friendly, as well as knowledgeable. He spent time and talked with each person on the course. His guidance was instructive and interesting as we worked through the day and developed our skill (or at least our very basic beginner skills!). The venue worked very well in terms of getting to the site as well as the amenities available (ie cafe / toilet etc). It was the right length of time (you felt you learnt something and delivered an end product but did not get bored / feel you were there for an excessively long time). The general course was pitched at the right level. The material post course material given to us also provided a useful way of finding out more about dry stone walling.  All together it made for a great day. Thanks  - Patrick

John is engaging, encouraging and very helpful. The course was informative, empowering and fun - CO

Had a very good day. Learnt I can’t keep a straight course, with thin pieces of stone. Got better with the hammer chipping bits off to reshape. Leant some terms, batter the angle of the wall, jumper - evening up a course.Would take on doing a wall at home.  JP

A very good day despite the weather. Excellent insight from John and good company. I am inspired to attend a practice weekend to go one stage further. TW

I found the Dry Stone Walling course to be very educational, and set at the right level for those attending. John helped the course along with his encouragement and anecdotes. It gave me the confidence to try a a few small home projects, and an interest to learn more about this countryside craft. NM

John's dry stone walling workshop is an active participation in learning the basic skills of wall construction. I thoroughly enjoyed the course but more importantly took away the necessary skills and appreciation for the wonderful works of stone that most of us just walk past. John patiently answered all my questions. I am looking forward to another course taught by him. PG

Interesting trainee feedback following a cycling weekend in the Cotswolds

Hi John

Here is the photo of my dry stone walling attempt while in the Cotswolds. I was on a cycling trip with a friend and was telling him about the workshop I had been on. Then, passing a section of collapsed wall, I thought why not get in a bit of practice.

I unfortunately did not take a before shot, but I think it's clear from the stone colour which section is new. Also, since I was at the side of the road in my cycling kit, I did not clear the rubble properly before starting laying stones, so you can see there is not a solid base to the wall.

I just wanted to say thank you for kick starting my interest in dry stone walling. I'm now hoping to practise lots on weekends away like this so that at some point I can get a formal qualification.

Speak soon



Chelsea Fringe Feed Back

May 23rd and 24th 2015

Thanks to John we had a great teacher; Cool learning I LOVE dry stone walling :-); - Great fun & great skills learnt; Fabulous dry stone walling session - going to give it a go in my own garden; - Really enjoyable morning dry stone walling - this garden is going to be beautiful! Many thanks; - Top skills today & a great tutor in John with support from Nicola, many thanks; - Beautiful garden! Lovely Goose wing - very creative; - Thank you - such an enjoyable way to spend a morning and gain an insight into dry stone walling; - I had a great time! First experience to dry stone wall making - Great!; - Great fun & great skills thanks; Loved it; -  we left our mark in the wall (our fish); Great session - excellent tutor; - The perfect afternoon - it left me with a profound respect for the craft of stone-walling - brilliant –thank you so much ; - Looking forward to having a garden and using my new skill;  - What is not to love and learn; - Dry stone walling in central London with Winchester geese amongst many watching; - Don't just look, see, think, explore research, what, why, where, all around you - privilege to be a part of it.



I have been looking forward to doing this course for some time. I have always loved DSW, having the chance to learn new skills is great and John is a great teacher.I cant wait to put what i have learned in my own projects at home and friends. 5*Thank you for a great day.  PH

 John is as experienced and knowledgeable as they come, having been building dry stone walls since the age of 8.The course struck a good balance between supervised and unsupervised learning - you need to be told some knowledge and shown some techniques, but ultimately getting your hands dirty and making mistakes, with someone checking in and correcting where necessary, is the way to get a feel for it, and by the end of the day I definitely felt I was starting to get my eye in.John was a very patient teacher, especially considering how slow and incompetent we must have looked compared to himself. He's also very keen to make and keep people aware of the what goes into dry stone walling and its heritage, and provided some useful information about e.g. National Dry Stone Walling Centre (which I will be sure to visit next time I'm on my way up north) and bee boles. I'm planning to volunteer for some restoration in the Lake District (although this will require some additional techniques).All round I would thoroughly recommend this course.


I signed up for this course as a garden designer - enthusiasm to learn this craft for my design portfolio but with limited practical experience in hard landscaping. I have come away with understanding, knowledge, and hands-on experience in building stone walling from foundation to toppers. John was engaging and clear with instructions explaining historical design styles and practicalities of dry stone construction before we started and then pointing out important considerations, possible mistakes, or need for certain stone choice and placement as we proceeded. This really is a skill that can only be learned in the doing and John very skillfully instructed us when the time was right and then let us learn for ourselves as we built our walls throughout the day. With the growing height of the walls came confidence in our stone placement choices.John finished the day with certificates and by asking us to reflect on gained knowledge - which I found really useful. I will never forget that the foundation of a wall should be half the wall height, and the top of the wall will be half the the width of the foundation. Thank you John!Taryn Ferris


Great course and really learnt a lot! Looking forward to building some walls back in Australia !  Michael Campbell -

We had a fantastic day on our friend’s Hen Party.John was a great teacher and coped fantastically well with our slightly unruly mob.Well worth doing & left me interested in trying it again some time.Giles Armstrong - 1 month ago.

As the Mother of the 'hen' I was slightly daunted at the thought of dry stone walling at my advanced age but I shouldn't have worried! John's tuition and advice make the whole experience very rewarding, so much so that I think we might have a go in our Dorset garden after possibly another workshop. All this in great company in the shadow of the Shard, a fantastic location for a very special day which we will never forget. Thank you John for sharing your expertise.Linda Jones - 2 months ago.

I was part of a hen party workshop. I had expected to enjoy it but not as much as I did. John was a great teacher who put our very mixed group at ease with a laid back and witty style. It was a really enjoyable activity at the end of which we had 5 pretty good walls! The setting was lovely and we were really lucky with the weather. I would definitely recommend this workshop, thank you John!Anne Krishnanandan - 2 months ago.

The class was brilliant - John quickly put us at ease, explained what we had to do, and we got started with wall building straight away. We were provided with feedback and instruction on the go, and John's warm, friendly, humorous, and positive approach meant we were able to improve our skills in a short time. The venue is beautiful and we were lucky to have plenty of sunshine - this wasn't hard work at all, it was fun! Thank you!Duncan Carmichael - 3 months ago.

Totally Fabulous!!!John helped me to arrange a DSW workshop for my friends Hen Party activity. Right from the start he was so helpful!I had no idea at all about DSW when I started this, I was struck by his enthusiasm which is totally contagious and he organised a fabulous session for us. It was a mixed group, and everybody really enjoyed it.I would thoroughly recommend this as a group activity - really fun and a great way to get to know people! And Redcross way is a brilliant location - you have a view of 'The Shard' as you build your wall!Dry Stone Walling (DSW) Workshop Central London - For a Hen Celebration - 3 months ago.

I would thoroughly recommend this as a group activity - really fun and a great way to get to know people! And Redcross way is a brilliant location - you have a view of 'The Shard' as you build your wall!Dry Stone Walling (DSW) Workshop Central London - For a Hen Celebration - 3 months ago

What a fantastic hands on day, building dry stone walls (dsw) in a lovely community park in south London.our expert teacher, John, gave us an insight into the art of dry stone walling. Straight away we got into working with the materials and the tools and discussed the history, theory and techniques of DSW.I would really recommend getting involved in this course. It has given me knowledge and an appreciation of the art and skill of dsw, and I look forward to looking out for these great structures be they on the British hillside or even (as we found out) supporting the terraced soils of Tuscan orchards!Ben Angus - 3 months ago

A really useful and enjoyable day; at the end of which I think I have a good idea of the fundamentals of building dry stone walls on my own.Dry stone walling workshop - 3 months ago.

It has been fantastic. I wish it was longer, or that I had a stone wall to fix now or something.Balazs Endrodi - 4 months ago.

A completely absorbing, fun and educational course which I would recommend to anyone with an interest in dry stone walls. John is a wonderful, humorous and patient instructor and very hands on in his approach whose passion for the subject shines through. I felt very proud of my wall. All in all it makes for a very rewarding day. Thank you John.Ruth Tilley - 5 months ago.

What an incredibly enjoyable day spent! I loved it all. An amazingly incongruous thing to be building a dry stone wall in full view of The Shard. It was tiring but in a very 'mindful' way, so actually pretty relaxing and very satisfying. We have a cottage in Devon and I've always wanted to build a feature 'slice' of dry stone wall in it. John is a lovely man and a great teacher. Overall an excellent, educational and fun day in really pleasant company. Would highly recommend to anyone!Rosalyn 'Rosie' Barnes-Galton - 5 months ago.

Thanks John, for a great day. The course was a great introduction to dry stone walling and has given me the confidence to attempt my own project at home. When it's all done I will send you a picture .Thanks for sharing your knowledge.Richard Law - 6 months ago.

A wonderful day learning a new skill with friendly people and excellent tuition in the fantastic setting of Crossbones in south London. Thanks very much John!James Castell - 6 months ago.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one day course and would recommend it to anyone who wants either to put the knowledge to practical use, or to someone who may just want a fun, creative day out. John, our instructor, is a very engaging, personable and a fantastic teacher. As well as being funny and engaging he is a veritable fountain of knowledge about his subject and it was fascinating to hear all about the uses of dry stone walling. It was great to get a real introduction into dry stone walling straight from the horses mouth, so to speak; getting to know all the different technical terms was brilliant. The main focus of the course however was very hands on and the majority of the time spent was on constructing our own walls with John's invaluable help and supervision throughout. This workshop will leave you as it did me, hungry for further knowledge and experience in DSW. The course also lead me to the Crossbones garden which I probably would not have discovered otherwise. It's a inspirational oasis of a place and brilliant that it has come about thanks to the efforts of some determined and committed people.Matt - 8 months ago.

We both thoroughly enjoyed the course and it had to be said that one of us was attending under duress but both of us were thoroughly smitten by the end of the day. John was a patient, thoughtful and enthusiastic teacher- e could not have asked for better. We would recommend this course not only for those with walls to tend to but for anyone who appreciates good craftsmanship and wants an interesting day.Tania and Kerim Fuad - 8 months ago.

This was an excellent day from beginning to end. John Holt was knowledgeable, informative, interesting and made the day a perfect introduction to dry stone walling. I attended along with my 17 year old son and we both loved it. John has exactly the right combination of outlining what you should do, and letting you get on with it to "learn by doing". I can't recommend the course or praise John highly enough, it was a wonderful day. Thank You!Duncan Neilson - 8 months ago.

A very good day's course, with "hands on" experience, much encouragement and good notes, all under the watchful eye of John Holt. A great course to find in London.Jeremy Prescott - 8 months ago.

I had a brilliant day. I'm considering building one in my garden. I will attend another course before doing it as I was just getting the 'knack' and then the day ended. John is an excellent teacher with his patience and enthusiasm.Steven Loud - 8 months ago.

Went with our daughter and her partner in a small group of 4. Had a very enjoyable and productive day. Amazed what we all managed between us to achieve, namely 2 substantial , sturdy, and attractive walls with coping stones on top and a seat to rest on.John Holt was thrilled to share all his passion for the walls and we all sat down for a nice lunch together I the sun. Would recommend as a complete step out from what we all usually do. Great fun and satisfying when you find the right piece which matches. The jigsaw analogy fits well.Hand-outs were clear and helpful. One day I will build a raised bed with seats as a project. shame we could not bring them home.Oh, and the history of the site was intriguing, too, with a lovely carved wood canopy gateway.Gerry F - 1 year ago.


I had an excellent day along with my son. Having been involved within construction in different roles for many years it had always been an ambition of mine to learn the art of DSW. I wasn't disappointed.I found John to be a very enthusiastic ,most knowledgeable instructor, who obviously gets great satisfaction in passing on his extensive knowledge to others, with his directing and instructing at different stages of construction .Thank you John we had such a good day.Jim & Shay.

I had a great day, great company, great instruction . John was excellent and very informative. Gave everyone in the group equal time and answered every question asked. I feel that, with the instruction given, I could quite confidently build my own wall. I would recommend this course to anyone that wants to spend a day in the fresh air, away from computers and phones and learn something new.Thanks.Andy Stevens - 1 month ago.

Huge thanks to John and Mike for providing a fabulous day of learning and laughter! We were a small group of four which proved ideal for group and individual coaching in the challenging art of dry stone walking. John is patient, encouraging and with a dry sense of humour. We really felt that we'd accomplished something pretty special by the end of our day which incidentally flew by. As the homework suggests, it looks simple but isn't! Johns ability to eyeball a stone and with a deft hammer blow make it fit seamlessly into place is a joy to behold. My family booked this for a Fathers Day present; A great gift with happy memories! Russell Green provisional dry stone waller!1 month ago.

John's passion for dry stone walling is infectious and I found him to be a patient and effective teacher. I feel confident that this course has given me a strong foundation to begin my own wall and learn more as I go.Callum - 4 months ago.

A very enjoyable course and John is an excellent tutor. Very informative, everything was explained and the practical aspect means there are no excuses when it comes to building my first wall.Murray - 4 months ago.

A very satisfying day that has Inspired me to build my own dry stone wall.John balanced gentle guidance with huge enthusiasm. A lot of practical advice and encouragement. I left exhausted but with a great sense of achievement.Malcolm Allison - 5 months ago.

A very enjoyable experience. John Holt runs the day in a relaxed manner and imparts a surprising amount of knowledge as you learn by doing. John is enthusiastic and knowledgeable and gets the right balance between letting you get on with it and intervening when necessary. You end up having actually built some wall. which is very satisfying.Philip Hall - 6 months ago.

really good course and learnt a lot and enjoyed it. The only improvement is maybe better joing instructions e.g. bring drinks and food. I asked so I knew to bring those but some simple instructions would avoid any mistakes.david Hennings - 7 months ago.

I felt inspired to just want to start building some dry stone wall. I would even go as far as saying I would be up for the possibility of becoming a dry stone wall craft worker if I change from gardening. John was easy going, very knowledgeable and I felt I didn't want to stop. Great day! Thank you adam carveth - 7 months ago.

I had a wonderful day in the beautiful Bedfordshire countryside on the Dry Stone Walling course. Its something I've always wanted to do - I have my husband to thank for booking it for my birthday'John has great way of putting you at your ease, his passion, extensive knowledge and experience for dry stone walling, together with his never ending patience made the course a very enjoyable and rewarding day.Its very fulfilling to know whilst you are improving your own skills, something you help to create will fit naturally into the landscape and will be a home for nature for years to come. Travelling the countryside and seeing all the dry stone walls will mean a lot more in the future! Alison Thompson - 8 months ago.


Chelsea Fringe    PRE - 2017







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Hill Drop Community CentreCommunity LaneIslington

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